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Coverage of Missing People

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
I know its been discussed before, but there's a new round of media coverage about an attractive young woman who is missing in N. Dakota. I hope the coverage gets the case needed attention, she is found alive, and the guilty are punished.

For comparison here's another case about a woman missing since February. She's black, and not so attractive. Frankly, I don't think her ethnicity is as much as a factor as attractiveness. She has a criminal record but that doesn't mean her disappearance doesn't warrant attention. I haven't even heard of this story on the LOCAL tv news, nevermind around the clock coverage on CNN. Substitute other local people from your area if you like.

I'm sure hundreds of people go missing every year in this country. It bugs me to no end to only see selected young attractive women offered national exposure when other less photogenic people are barely given an article in the local paper.

Again, I don't mean this as any disrespect to the N. Dakota victim. I do mean disrespect to the news media who keep doing this again and again
 
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SlaveToTheGrind

Cyburbian
Messages
1,266
Points
24
Linky no worky

I agree without even seeing the article. Take for example Jon Benet Ramsey and Elizabeth Smart. Two girls with looks and a parents with a lot of $$. I mean no disrespect to either family, but when looks and $$ are involved, the case gets much more attention.

Case in point with Ramsey. How many other people are murdered every year in the US? Many. How many get the media coverage the Ramsy case received? Only the ones with celebrities or those with a lot of money and/or looks.

Case in point with the Smarts. How many children are abducted every year in the US? Again, many. And many can only be found on a milk carton (is that still really done?). A lot of children are abducted, but again, if looks and/or money is present, the media just runs with it and sensationalizes the issue.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
I had this same rant about a year ago. At the same time that Elizabeth Smart (rich, white, pretty) was abducted, a little balck girl from Milwaukee was abducted. The antional media was ALL about Elizabeth, but barely a soul has heard of Alexis Patterson. Alexis is still missing, Elizabeth is not. Yet, Elizabeth still shows up on the National news from time to time. Alexis does not.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
I wonder how much of this is due to the place where she is from... I mean, nobody ever expects something bad to happen in North Dakota (it's almost Canada!) So I'm sure it grabbed big news there and got picked up by the wires. They are also offering big bucks ($140k according to the website, which is huge in N.D. standards).

I think a lot of it is also how much the parents/loved ones raise a local rucus. If the parents make a huge deal of it (Elizabeth Smart) and create their own media frenzy by appealing to celebreties and the media, of course they will get more attention.
 

martini

Cyburbian
Messages
679
Points
19
nerudite might be onto something there with the Rural contigent. They don't have to do much to make a lot of noise, where as someone in a large metro area does have to make quite a stink in order to be heard. Its a shame, really. Alexis deserves as much attention as Elizabeth/Dru got/is getting. Is it as simple as the poor being downtrodden and thinking "one more nail in the proverbial coffin", or is it the media's love of prettyness? I don't think it's really about being rich in Dru's case. By all accounts, the family is middleclass, probably either farmers or factory workers/blue collar. I really do think it's all about the pretty factor. Dru is simply a striking woman and the media is all over it for ratings.

Standard disclaimer: None of this is meant as a slight to victims families. I dearly hope she is found alive, if not well.
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
nerudite said:
I wonder how much of this is due to the place where she is from... I mean, nobody ever expects something bad to happen in North Dakota (it's almost Canada!) So I'm sure it grabbed big news there and got picked up by the wires. They are also offering big bucks ($140k according to the website, which is huge in N.D. standards).
I think you're on the right track here. These cases of missing women become big partly because of where the crime took place. The Ramsey's lived in Boulder, CO, not exactly the murder capital of the US. Elizabeth Smart comes from a wealthy Morman family in Utah, and I'm guessing that in-home knife point abductions are a bit of a rarity for that socio-economic group. Dru Sjodin is from Grand Forks, North Dakota, where any crime beyond underage drinking or a dead gopher on the ice at a hockey game is a big story.

I was talking on the phone yesterday witha good friend of mine from high school who is a University of North Dakota graduate and married to a Grand Forks native, and she was telling me that the entire city is completely freaked out by Dru Sjodin's dissaperance. Things like this just do not happen there. So the shock value of the crime in relation to where it occured must have something to do with the amount of coverage it receives in the national media.
 
Messages
16
Points
1
I truly believe that it has a lot to do with the preconceptions of investigating officers. How they receive a case directly affects the resources that go into it. I didn't know about Alexis until yesterday and the first 3 articles I read about the case mentioned that the step-dad dropped her off....so, we have the pattersons (black kid, inner city and blended family) vs the smarts (white kid, upper class neighbourhood and perfect family). I shouldn't overlook the fact that the cops in the Smarts' neighbourhood most likely had more and better resources to begin with.

The Smart case really confused me, I thought all rich people empower their children. Did anyone ever make a clear case for her not trying to get away...other than the brainwashing argument?
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,551
Points
24
I think the Dru Sjodin, Laci Peterson, Elizabeth Smart, et. al. became big stories because the TV media uses the "they're just like you" angle. Or more appropriately, it's the "they're just like the people we want watching our news!" angle.

Did the crime involve attractive people? Check. Did the victim have a measure of wealth? Check. Did the crime take place where "things like this just don't happen here (i.e., suburbia or rural America)?" Check.

All of a sudden, the media glare is on a victim who is just like the attractive, white, upper-middle class, suburban viewers that TV covets.
 
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